We spoke with
recruiters and hiring managers to get a sense of what makes candidates break
through the slush. They may not have heard of your current and past employers
or products you have worked on, but if you present your accomplishments and
skills in the right way, you can maximize your career opportunities in a hot
a look at what you should and shouldn’t do when crafting your resume.
Don’t Drown Hiring Managers In Your Details
to detail is an essential trait for programmers, but it’s best not to overdo it
on your resume.
year, I have seen multiple candidates with resumes over 10 pages long that are
filled with technical details. Those resumes take a lot of work to understand.
Unfortunately, some candidates list every technology they have ever interacted
with on their resume,” explains Brandon Vince, ?who works on strategic talent
acquisition at Cisco.
addition to losing hiring managers in your details, you also risk coming off as
someone who can’t weigh the importance of your own work—a nonstarter for
companies looking for programmers who can make a difference in prioritizing
business goals. Your resume is meant to present you in the best light, not
serve as a comprehensive transcript.
Provide Business Context
working closely with a department or company, you become an insider. That’s
helpful while you are at the company and have a shared reference point. On a
resume, the insider perspective makes it difficult for hiring managers to
understand your value.
many cases, candidates don’t describe what the company does or how they
contributed to the company’s purposes,” explains Peter Yared, CTO at Sapho, a
software firm that creates business micro apps. “I’ll see people write
something like ‘programmed in Java for 6 years.’ There’s no context for what
that programming achieved. Adding a sentence about the company like ‘built a
reservation system for a vacation travel system’ helps.”
a short explanation that gives the business context and impact of your
development work helps hiring managers fully understand your achievements,
giving them not only a better view of your value but also insight as to how
your efforts can help them achieve their own business goals.
List every technology you’ve ever touched
hiring managers with material is only one problem with an excessively detailed
resume. If you list a skill or technology on your resume, expect that you may
be asked questions about it.
have seen candidates list Assembly on their resume, then struggle to answer
questions about it during interviews,” explains Pablo Calamera, CTO at Vonage,
a telecommunications company.
than listing every programming language or product you've used, limit your
resume to those skills where you have significant dexterity and expertise.
Otherwise, you run the risk of embarrassing yourself in the interview.
numerous platforms and languages on a resume without clearly indicating your
level of proficiency leads to problems. The applicant appears in a keyword
search with that approach. However, once a hiring manager or recruiter connects
with the developer, it doesn’t take long to find out there is a mismatch in
terms of skills and expertise,” explains Marissa Peretz, founder of Silicon
Beach Talent, a recruiting firm based in California.
Calibrate your resume to the role
your resume to the tech prerequisites of a job listing is important, but so too
is targeting the role. After all, the difference between a junior and senior
developer often goes beyond years of experience.
senior developer at our agency likely only spends about 20 percent of their
time directly writing code. The rest of the time, a typical day may include
mentoring junior staff, working with project managers, and working with
software architecture,” explains Jim Oxenford, mobile development manager at
Tonic Design, a digital agency in Pennsylvania.
other organizations, “senior iOS developer” may mean you have been on staff the
longest. The best way to find out what these terms mean in various
organizations is to read the job posting closely and reach out to your network
resume also needs to align with your career goals, such as whether you want to
move to management. “If a person is searching for a management position, I’m
looking for evidence they have tackled tough challenges, collaborated with
other departments to solve complex problems, and otherwise shown leadership,”
adds Silicon Beach Talent’s Peretz. Communicating this type of accomplishment
on a resume is harder than compiling a list of technologies. That’s why
candidates who take the extra effort stand out.
Try to game resume systems
today’s systems-based hiring culture, keywords on your resume will make it
discoverable, but there is such a thing as too much optimization. While it
might seem like a good idea to create a resume meant to sparkle in the eyes of
the machines, don’t.
the end of the day, write the resume to be read by the hiring manager, not a
system,” explains Calamera. “Some candidates go a bit crazy in loading up their
resumes with acronyms – that approach obscures the individual’s true talents,”
ago, Google’s search engine adjusted to aggressive keyword tactics. Likewise,
hiring managers and recruiters can tell if you are going too far.
I’m searching for an iOS developer, I may search for ‘iOS’ and ‘Swift’ in a
database, but that’s about it,” Calamera explains. “I have seen some resumes
where there are long lists of keywords. I’m more interested in knowing how you
Augment with code
been said before, but its value is true: For some employers, open source
contributions and related professional activities make a big difference.
Sometimes it can even help you bypass those notorious programming tests.
a candidate links to significant code contributions on GitHub, we look at that.
In some cases, it may be so good that we skip the coding challenge in the
hiring process,” explains Cisco’s Vince.
your resume with project code repositories is especially important if you are
seeking to make a career change.
a candidate is working on learning Ruby on Rails in their spare time and
publishes to a code repository, I would consider that even if their day job did
not involve Ruby,” explains Vince.
you are looking to change your career focus, public contributions are one
strategy to pursue.
problem solving abilities and process is highly important in addition to
specific technical skills,” adds Calamera. If you overcame technical
limitations or problems to ship a project, that’s a powerful message to share
Rest on your coding laurels
your resume attracts interest, you may be invited to a coding challenge to
validate your technical skills. It has become a common practice because
employers and candidates struggle to evaluate technical expertise. As you put
together your resume, know that anything you include is subject to review. That
includes sweating the small stuff, as functional software is only part of the
picture with a coding challenge.
look at their code for a few qualities: Is it clean? Is it well documented? Did
it address the requirements?” comments Calamera.
approach will also signal what you might be like to work with as a colleague.
“At the end of the day, a good test for quality code is whether someone else on
the team can understand it without your explaining it,” adds Oxenford.
Consider getting certified
education and certifications play a role in setting your resume apart, and
sometimes that means broadening your scope.
a software engineer is looking to work on Cisco’s security products, it helps
to have Cisco certifications,” explains Vince. Certifications of note include
the CCNA and CCNP. “If a developer has the CCIE certification, that’s amazing,”
Vince adds. “Beyond Cisco certifications, I also take note of Network+ and
Security+ certifications to demonstrate industry knowledge,” he adds.
it’s still under debate whether dev-specific certifications will give you an
edge, if you are looking to work within a specific industry, going the extra
mile to prove your interest and acumen can be worthwhile.
Certify for the sake of certification
certifications can help, your motivations and objectives count more.
a candidate has multiple certifications, I ask about them: What did they do
with this knowledge? How does it fit with their work and career?” comments
for learning’s sake has value, yet the learning is more compelling for an
employer if you can show what you did with your new knowledge. If you earned a
certification a long time ago, think carefully about whether it makes sense to
include it. After all, you may be asked questions about it during an interview.
most effective resumes convey a career plan. When putting together your resume,
it’s important to reflect on your career progression and whether you are meeting
your needs so that you can tailor your resume toward getting to your next step.
having a goal that goes beyond a job description is essential, whether it’s to
move to a management role, to go deeper in a more technical position, or to
shift to a new domain, industry, or profession.
you have a sense of your path, tap your network to find friends or colleagues
in roles similar to your target. Their tales of how they came to be where they
are will provide insights as to how you should polish your resume in service of